E-Cigarette use, also known as vaping, has grown dramatically in popularity over the last several years, despite limited long-term data on its safety. And now, in addition to troubling reports about vaping’s harmful effects on some users, a recent study has revealed vaping negatively affects fertility.

According to research published in the September 2019 edition of The Journal of The Endocrine Societyvaping has a harmful effect on fertility, fetal health, and fetal metabolic systems.

Using a mouse model, the study revealed decreased embryo implantation in female mice exposed to the e-cigarette vapor. Female offspring exposed to e-cigarette vapor in utero also failed to gain as much weight as control mice by the 8.5-month mark, the study said.

“We found that e-cigarette usage prior to conception significantly delayed implantation of a fertilized embryo to the uterus, thus delaying and reducing fertility (in mice),” said the study’s corresponding author, Kathleen Caron, Ph.D., of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. “We also discovered that e-cigarette usage throughout pregnancy changed the long-term health and metabolism of female offspring—imparting lifelong, second-generation effects on the growing fetus.”

“These findings are important because they change our views on the perceived safety of e-cigarettes as alternatives to traditional cigarettes before and during pregnancy,” added Caron.

The findings are particularly significant since the use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students in the U.S. increased from 2.1 million users in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost half of those students are females.

So what does this mean for women of reproductive age who either vape or spend a lot of time around others, perhaps significant others, who vape? It means they should consider quitting, ask their partner to quit, and avoid spaces with secondhand smoke of any kind.

“This study points to a significant fertility risk for female mice exposed to vaping, which should serve as a warning to women who vape and are interested in having children,” said RMA of Philadelphia fertility specialist, Dr. Jackie Gutmann. “In cases like these, where we know there is a risk, it’s best to eliminate the behavior.”

“I would encourage any woman who vapes to seriously consider quitting.”